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Emotional intelligence in front-line/back-office employee relationships

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journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2017 by T. Kearney, G. Walsh, W. Barnett, T. Gong, M. Schwabe, Kemefasu Ifie
Purpose—This research undertakes a simultaneous assessment of interdependence in the behaviours of front-line and back-office employees and their joint effect on customer-related organizational performance. It also tests for a moderating influence of the emotional intelligence of front-line salespeople and back-office employees. Design/methodology/approach—The sample comprises 105 front-line sales employees and 77 back-office employees. The customer-related organizational performance data come from a U.K. business-to-business (B2B) electronics company. With these triadic data, this study uses partial least squares to estimate the measurement and structural models. Findings—Salespeople’s customer orientation directly affects customer-related organizational performance; the relationship is moderated by salespeople’s emotional intelligence. The emotional intelligence of salespeople also directly affects the customer directed citizenship behaviour of back-office employees. Furthermore, the emotional intelligence of back-office staff moderates the link between the emotional intelligence of salespeople and back-office staff citizenship behaviour. Back-office staff citizenship behaviour in turn affects customer-related organizational performance. Originality/value—The emotions deployed by employees in interactions with customers clearly shape customers’ perceptions of service quality, as well as employee-level performance outcomes. But prior literature lacks insights into the simultaneous effects of front-line and back-office employee behaviour, especially in B2B settings. This article addresses these research gaps by investigating triadic relationships—among back-office employees, front-line employees and customer outcomes—in a B2B setting, where they are of particular managerial interest.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

Journal of Services Marketing


KEARNEY, T. ...et al., 2017. Emotional intelligence in front-line/back-office employee relationships. Journal of Services Marketing, 31 (2), pp 161-171.


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AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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